Transport Secretary Grant Shapps among thousands of Brits forced to quarantine following u-turn on Spanish travel rules
Transport Minister Grant Shapps arrived in Spain for a holiday on Friday (PA)
Grant Shapps is set to be among thousands of British tourists who will be required to self isolate for 14 days upon return from Spain after the Government u-turned on travel rules.
In a surprise announcement on Saturday, the Department for Transport said Spain would no longer be on the travel corridor list of countries exempt from travel restrictions.
The move came after a spike in coronavirus cases in some regions caused local authorities to bring in new restrictions such as mandatory face masks in public spaces, with Barcelona urging residents to stay at home.
Labour said the sudden move was “deeply concerning” for families trapped abroad, while Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon advised holidaymakers to be “cautious about non-essential foreign travel” as “these matters are subject to change at short notice”.
Spain was one of the worst-hit European countries at the height of the pandemic with over 290,000 confirmed cases and 28,000 deaths, compared to the UK’s 45,000 deaths.
A Government spokesperson said: “The Joint Biosecurity Centre together with Public Health England have updated their coronavirus assessments of Spain based on the latest data.
“As a result, Spain has been removed from the lists of countries from which passengers arriving in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are exempted from the need to self-isolate.
“Protecting public health is our absolute priority and we have taken this decision to limit any potential spread to the UK.
“We’ve always been clear that we would act immediately to remove a country where necessary. Both our list of quarantine exemptions and the FCO travel advice are being updated to reflect these latest risk assessments.”
Those already holidaying in the Mediterranean country are advised to continue their stay and follow local advice.
But they will be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon return from Spain to any part of the UK including Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The government is urging employers to be “understanding” of those returning from Spain who now will need to self-isolate.
Transport Minister Grant Shapps, who helped arrange the travel corridors, is among those who have been caught out having arrived in Spain for a family holiday on Friday.
Responding to the announcement on Saturday, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “The news will be deeply concerning for families who are in caught Spain or are planning travel – the Government needs to come forward now with full details of how people affected will be supported."
Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon wrote on Twitter: “Having reviewed the latest data earlier today, [the Scottish Government] is also reimposing 14-day quarantine for travellers returning from Spain.
“This reinforces the point that these matters are subject to change at short notice & so my advice is to be cautious about non-essential foreign travel.”
Five further countries were added to the quarantine-free list on Friday for people travelling to England including Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.